Spring 2024 News

Dear patients, colleagues, and friends,

Spring is a season that many people tend to overlook, seeing it as a transition season. Regarding mental health, transitional periods can be some of THE most crucial in our progress. Without transitions, people would lack the ability to develop and evolve into the person that they really strive to be. In this way, spring is truly a time to focus on yourself, and make sure that you are giving yourself all the foundational aspects that will eventually allow you to flourish when it comes time to show off your summer self.

The Courage to Connect newsletter will provide our patients, colleagues and friends with insight on the importance of mental health, wellness and information on the topics that are important to you. If you are interested in setting up an appointment for therapy, testing or medication management, please call our office at (847) 730-3042 or email info@couragetoconnecttherapy.com.

Dr. Michael Clatch, Psy. D.

Specialty Spotlight:

Check-In with HALT

Stephanie Uy, LCPC, CADC

When life gets busy, it’s easy to overlook your basic needs. Paying attention to both your physical and emotional well-being is necessary for maintaining a healthy and balanced life. The HALT method is an effective tool to help you assess your needs. Originally developed to help those in recovery, HALT is an acronym for four common stresses: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.


The body and mind need fuel to function properly. When you are hungry, your blood sugar levels drop, affecting your mood, concentration, and energy levels. Making time to recognize your hunger and nourish yourself can help your body and brain work to their highest potential.


Feeling angry is normal. However suppressing anger can increase your stress levels and negatively impact your mental health. Acknowledging your anger and learning to express it in healthy ways is crucial for your emotional well-being.


Humans are social beings and feeling lonely can contribute to emotional distress. When you notice you’re feeling lonely, it may help to reach out to your support system. Even small social interactions can help provide a sense of belonging and alleviate feelings of loneliness.


A lack of sleep can significantly impact your mood, cognitive function, and overall well-being. Recognizing when you are tired and prioritizing quality rest is necessary

Practicing the HALT method on a regular basis can work as an effective warning system to remind yourself to pause and address your needs. It can be a struggle to balance self-care and self-compassion, but by checking in with yourself using HALT, you can create a foundation for a healthier life.

In the Press:

The Bright Light of Autism

Alexis Walich, LPC

It is common to focus on the fear and anxiety when met with the challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Whether you have just received the diagnosis or have been on this journey for some time, it can be difficult to see anything other than the darker moments. If we shine a light into the dark places, we will see that there are also many benefits to having Autism.

Many people who have Autism tend to have highly focused interests, which could be in art, music, animals, specific characters, or numbers. These often are a source of happiness and helps with self-regulation. If an individual with Autism has a fixation on something, they will spend much of their time reading/watching/practicing the skill or engaging in the interest. This can increase concentration, development of knowledge on the subject, and allow them to have topics to practice conversation skills. I have had experience working with this population in both a therapy setting as well as at a therapeutic day school. I once worked with a young boy who was considered to be non-verbal autistic. Over time, I noticed his interest in music and once I began incorporating songs/music into his treatment, he was able to mimic and communicate words through singing. This brought out his confidence, love for music, and truly allowed him to be himself while he is learning. When we shift our focus from trying to “fix” to bringing out a person’s strengths, it can result in positive behavior changes and connection with others.

Being around individuals with Autism also teaches people to show compassion for others that learn differently. I have had to acknowledge my own communication flaws and then develop new strategies to meet various learning needs. I may need to repeat a word or phrase, show a video clip, use visuals, dance, or jump. If we pay attention to the interests, emotions, and needs of the person, this can enhance growth in many areas. It is important to slow down and celebrate the small moments; a smile, the calm after a tantrum, a brief interaction with a classmate, or a new skill mastered. I believe this gives us the ability to love and show empathy even deeper than we have before.

Individuals with Autism can see things differently, have unique perspectives, have outside-the-box thinking, and be very creative. They have a unique way of interacting and engaging with the world, which can help with innovations and add to the human experience. They have a heightened perception that makes them better at detecting sounds, scents, and notice visual details. We will continue to shine the light of Autism by modeling and educating through our positive outlook and advocacy.

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